Friday, December 9, 2011

A Traditional Giriama Naming Ceremony

Wednesday was the day….I became an official Giriama lady. It all started with the idea from the headmaster of the secondary school. He said I’ve been given a name, Kache, but I haven’t been named. So he got together with the Chief and started making arrangements. Honestly, I was surprised at how fast everything came together….Kenyans say they are going to do things and then they never happen, so I was a bit doubtful at first but humored them. The Chief then got with the village elders and went through what is required for the ceremony. The list….my family members, their home, a hondo (traditional Giriama clothes which is fabric laid on a string that you wear around your waist to enhance your booty….already had that covered, but gotta wear it to be official), a original Giriama glass (a coconut carved out with a stick through it that is used to ladle the water and then drank from), a goat, and traditional dancers and music.


Everyone contributed and all these things were acquired and prepared. The specially picked out my hondo color fabric and old mamas made it using the old techniques of washing and folding it a certain way. Then two lesos were bought, one my grandmother would wear a piece of and the other, my great uncle (one of the village elders) would wear. The brought everything together to my family’s home which is in one of the sub-villages of Jilore, called Sosoni . Here would be my birth home. My “father” or “Baba” is Karema who is the clerk at the dispensary. Upon my arrival, he gave me my Giriama name, thus I was adopted into my family.

The ceremony was set to begin at 9am and promptly began at 1pm. Oh Kenyan time….WAY worse than Jew time for those of you that know my Jew time schedule. We arrived at my family’s home and the men sat on one side of the tree and the women on the other. The ceremony was started with some word from the headmaster, my father Karema, and then a discussion of what I have accomplished here in Jilore. All this being said in KiGiriama, their mother tongue language. I was taken off to get dressed in the traditional wear.

I was brought out by a line of singing mamas and was presented to the crowd. Everyone was laughing and enjoying the show. It felt very happy. Then I sat in front of one of the mud houses and the ceremony began. Amos, my great uncle, said some blessing words and then my Grandmother, who I am named after, stands up and welcomes me to the family, gives me blessings, and then takes a drink out of the traditional cup and spits on herself three times and then takes another sip and spits the water on my chest three times as well. The rest of the water in the coconut cup is poured out in front of me and the celebrating starts.

We sat and watched the Giriama dancers dance and my Baba, is presented with some jugs of Mnzai, the locally brewed coconut wine. All the men partake in the drinking. Then my Baba presents me with a goat that is then slaughter for us all to eat. The goat he presented wasn’t the one that we ate due to time constraints. He gave me a big, male goat that was kinda freaking out. I was a little worried that he was going to run away and he was worried he was going to be eaten!

At this point, it starts raining heavily. This is seen as huge blessing to the village when rain comes with visitors or during ceremonies. It means that they will have a good harvest and continued good luck into the next one. As it looks, it’s still on track to keep raining and people have started to harvest. Yay!

So we waited out the rain which lasted about an hour and then we ate a tasty goat and ugali. After we ate I thanked everyone and left the men too keep drinking their palm wine and we started to walk home still wearing my hondo. Let’s just say I attracted some attention on the way home….more than normal.

It was truly an honor to be a part of something like this and to know that they put it together all themselves for just me. There was video taken which they want to have edited and have captions to translate it. They will be keeping a copy of it in the Resource Center library, so that future people can know the history of someone who influenced the construction of the Jilore Vijana Resource Center and helped the community in different ways.



My name is Monje Kache Karema Mulewa from the Mkare clan. Monje means a shelter where if one goes, they will be safe and protected. This name is only to be used by my future husband and my grandmother who named me. Kache is a young lady. This name is used by everyone else. Karema means the old or ancient people of the Giriamas. And Mulewa is my family name to tell which clan I come from. “Born” Dec. 7, 2011 in Jilore, Kenya.
xoxox

A Pastor’s Family for the Jew in Jilore

David, Pauline, and Joshua Amukowa

My next featured people are Pastor David, Pauline, and Baby Joshua. They are some of my best friends and I seriously don’t know what I would do without them here in Jilore.


Pauline married the pastor in April 2010. She came to Jilore, where the pastor has been posted for his work, shortly after that in May. I arrived in Jilore in August 2010, so we were both very new to this Giriama village, but the pastor has been here for 3 years at that time. I first met the pastor and his wife when I came to their home one night because my phone was dead and they had lights on which meant they had electricity. They welcomed me with open arms and it was such a relief. They both speak fluent English and are educated and understand my humor (that one is difficult for some Kenyans). We spent the next several hours there talking and introducing ourselves to one another. The Pastor is Luhya and Pauline is Luo. Both these tribes come from Western Kenya and Nyanza Province. They were outsiders like me, which bonded us even more. Pauline is 28 years old and the Pastor is in his early 30’s. They met while they were both working in Mombasa.

From that night I was a regular at their house in the evenings to have dinner, charge my phone, and have great conversations. I heard stories from the pastor about how he found Jilore 3 years ago and how he encouraged the community to rebuild the church as it stands today. I was introduced to many people through the pastor and welcomed into the church. I started going just to see how this church was run, and also to support my new found friends. My appearances at church became a benefit to my work in the village because I was seen and people got to know me. Thank God (literally) that this wasn’t one of the crazy evangelistic churches where people are rolling around on the ground trying to get the devil out of them. Yes, those churches do exist here and have large followings. I enjoy going and listening to the kids sing and dance. I would make a point to go at least once a month and sometimes twice if I was in the village on a Sunday. The church congregation became very helpful in my projects and it brought me closer to some very important people who I work closely with.

The bond that we shared was founded on the fact that we were all outsiders to the Giriama community and tend to find most of their methods of living a bit crazy. I would go to the Pastor for advice when I was struggling to get through to people or how to work through an issue on a project. We had all the same experiences with these people, so we understood the challenges. They ranged from extreme donor syndrome, constantly thinking the white girl has money, lack of motivation and follow through, lack of education, language boundaries, etc. Just talking to him helped me out because at least I knew someone who has gone through the same challenges in just trying to help the people in Jilore. The pastor also gave me the full support of the church and would become a key partner in the construction of the Resource Center. Pauline and I would talk about the odd things we saw people doing and she would fill me in on all the church gossip. We laugh a lot together and I would spend entire days just sitting outside with her chatting. We both have the great talent of eye rolling and that to us said a thousand words to each other. Like when an entire homestead family brought a “mad” woman to the house to be prayed for one night. Most likely she was just drunk but people here think its witchcraft or something else because they don’t understand. Or when a suspected murder came to the house bleeding from his head after a mob justice style encounter at the burial of the woman he supposedly killed. He wanted to be prayed for and still claimed his innocence. Turns out he left the village days later never to been seen since then. After such things like this we just roll our eyes and laugh. She also was a great link to the church mamas and would pass on information to them about my projects or clarify to them that “no, the resource center is not mine and it is not my house in Jilore.” Ugh…..

Pauline is also a very strong and independent woman who has modern ideas. In Jilore, and most rural places in Kenya, the woman’s place is not to speak, listen to their husband, and produce many children. Pauline is different and worked and lived by herself in Mombasa for 5 years before she married. She is educated and voices her own opinions. She is the person I got to and vent about things with and we both have helped each other out in tough times. She is also an excellent wife and mother without giving up who she is as a person. She once saved me from a bat that was inside of my house. I was scared and running around screaming like a little girl, but she came over, took my leso, walked in smacked the bat off the ceiling and then swept it outside, handed me back the leso and said goodnight. She didn’t even flinch. My hero!

Then came the best thing and “my future husband” as I tell the other ladies, Baby Joshua. Joshua was born in March 2011 and I was so happy that I got to spend time with a baby that I could play with! Pauline went to Mombasa to deliver and also to avoid the crowd of mamas that wait during deliverers here. She brought back adorable little Joshua when he was just about a month old. Joshua became my stress reliever. At this time the resource center construction was beginning and my stress of dealing with money in Kenya was enough to ruin a weak person. I would take a time out and go over and see Joshua. I was his first muzungu (white person) he ever saw which was an honor and would help out with his understanding that not everyone in the world was black and will hopefully later prevent awkward staring at people of a different color. I would play with him, hold him, make him laugh and just that would change my whole day around and I would feel better. I still do it, and now Joshua is almost 9 months old and he is super interactive which makes it even more fun for me. He knows me now and gets excited when I come over. Since I like to do some therapy shopping at times, but don’t need anything for myself, I tend to help out Pauline and the Pastor with Joshua. I buy them things that they would struggle on their own to acquire. It makes me happy to be able to help them out and to see Joshua grow up healthy. We now say it’s like Christmas every time I come back from Malindi or Mombasa.


Me, Maggie, Pauline, Pastor, and Baby Joshua


Baby Joshua around 5 months old

Margaret, or Maggie as I like to call her, came to live with the Pastor’s family and got to school in Jilore. She is Pauline’s younger sister. Maggie is the second to last born in a family of 8 children. Pauline is the second born. Maggie is 12 years old and in Class 7 next term. She is bright and funny. She is another one of my little buddies and I enjoy spending time with her. I usually give her breaks from her school work and chores to go and walk around the village and get out of the house.
Without them I really would have struggled here. They are like my family here and people that I can trust completely. And if the Pastor could read this he would kill me for not referring to him as Reverend. LOL But I started with Pastor so it’s a hard habit to break!

Much Love from Kenya

xoxo



Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Chief Is More Than A Chief

I wanted to give everyone a more in depth idea of the most important people I work and spend time with here in the village. These are also the people that I'm going to miss the most. So here is Bio number 1!

Assistant Chief Jilore Sub Location, Charles Mulewa

I wake up every morning and literally say, "I love my chief". His office is in the dispensary, so from my house I can see and recognize the sound of his motorcycle or piki piki. After my hellos to the dispensary staff, I head to his office and take a seat on the other side of his desk and my day begins. We talk about projects, people, issues in the community, upcoming meetings, his plans and schedule, etc. Mixed into our "business" talk is joking, laughing, discussing some people and their "habits", and some inside gossip. As a Mulewa, his last name, I'm actually part of his clan and in his family line with my Giriama name. He's some father's uncle's cousin's brother or something.....but in my mind it make me like in the line of royalty here, right? haha He also said he could forge me a Kenyan ID card too. hahaha

He is a happy man and very hard working. He is married with 3 kids. His laugh is infectious and he really understands my humor so we laugh together quiet a lot. He has a chipped front tooth and a round belly. Arielle (PCV) and I believe that ugali, the staple food of kenya, gives you a pot belly. We haven't really been proven wrong. He likes to have a few drinks after work each day at his brother's bar or the local "pubs" that sell the local brew of mnazi (palm wine). But never has this affected his work or performance as a chief like I've seen it do to others. Every day he is in the office at 8am and has never missed an appointment with me. The best part is that when he is "relaxing" as he calls it and he calls me after 7pm, he responds to my hello with "Hello, my dear". It's the funniest thing and I enjoy hearing it.

We joke about how I'm the Assistant Chief when he needs help with things. I'm always around when the relief food is delivered and help oversee the offloading into his office. The smell of maize (corn) reminds me of him and his office now I've noticed. And if I want some of the food, I just ask and I shall be given. Usually I just take a share for the Pastor and his family or like when we used some relief food while building the resource center for a "food for work" program. He is a great public speaker and really knows what to say to the crowd to get them motivated or behind something. The gift of public speaking is bred in to almost all kenyans, but he is entertaining too.

He always keeps me updated on the events and happenings of the village. I'm invited and attend leaders meetings with the chiefs, District Officer (DO), Village Elders, etc. He is my main supporter for any ideas I have for the community and we sit and discuss how they could work. He gives me honest answers since he knows the people here and understands their behaviors. He is the one I go to to vent or complain about anything. And he always says, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it." and he always does. And with the stress of some events that have just happened recently and one to come next week, he has depended on me for help and his venting and complaining also. It's nice to know that it can go both ways.

Many Peace Corps Volunteers don't even know their Chief let alone have a relationship with them. It a vital thing to have though because if the Chief isn't down with your work, project or ideas then it's a pain to get them to work and have the community own them. In some cases, if the chief isn't informed of something going on in his village, all hell could break lose. In other cases, the pcv's chief could care less. I think I got that perfect medium, with a bonus.


All dressed up in his official uniform...sorry no feathers here!
Tasting the food from the Solar Cooker Training
He has really made me feel successful in my work here by him doing things without me asking or even him having great ideas first to help with programs. I spend more time in his office during the day then I do mine own. His logic and problem solving is amazing and it just shows how great of a chief that he is. He knows how Kenyans are going to act before they even do it! He keeps me sane and I know that I wouldn't have made it through some days as well if it wasn't for talking out the issue with him. So I'll continue to say that "I love my Chief" and everything he does for me I'm so thankful for!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Never Have I Ever….

I dedicate this blog post to Nicole, who has so patiently waited for this : )….
Never Have I Ever….A classic game that any teenager has played, but now for me…it has changed a bit…

Never have I ever been to Africa or Kenya before now. Never have I ever lived outside Arizona or the USA. Never have I ever been more comfortable in a skirt and would prefer to wear one compared to other clothing items. Never have I ever had wild animals like monkeys live in my backyard or have it be a common to see a giraffe or zebra on a road trip. Never have I ever had so many skin issues until coming and living in Kenya or have been on so many medications and at risk of catching diseases that will have lasting effects on my liver. Never have I ever appreciated Arizona’s DRY heat until after spending one hot season with ridiculous, un-godly humidity. Never have I ever been away from my immediate family for this long without seeing them…Mom: 1 year, Dad: 2 years, Brother: 2 years. Never have I ever understood two foreign languages going on in one conversation at the same time until Kenya. Never have I ever had a problem with goats or chickens eating my garden. Never have I ever craved Taco Bell as much as I have since day one of being in Kenya. Never have I ever thought I could add pest controller to my resume. Never have I ever had enough geckos in my house that I started to name them. Never have I ever had vivid dreams that are malaria medication induced and then induce me to talk myself out of thinking they actually happened. Never have I ever had to duck from bats flying around inside my house and then had to go fetch the pastor’s wife to come and kill it for me. Never have I ever worn Old Navy flip flops year round. Never have I ever had my hands be considered a “the Kenyan natural spoon”. Never have I ever seen the effects of a drought first hand and how hunger affects families. Never have I ever owned a phone this expensive or advanced as the one I have now in Kenya. Never have I ever met so many amazing people that have left lasting impressions on me. Never have I ever missed being lazy and watching TV all day. Never have I ever known that I should be here, doing this work, right now in my life because of how right it feels and how everything just falls into place. Never have I ever Facebooked stalked ALL of my FB friends so much. Never have I ever been SO excited to find legit, real Hot Cheetos. Never have I ever been able to know what time it was just by the sound of certain vehicles that drive by. Never have I ever been able to convert currency in my head. Never have I ever based my activities on when the mosquitoes will come out for the night and hide in my net until that time passes. Never have I ever been so crafty and look at containers and think “hmmm…what could I use this for?”. Never have I ever thought that an 6-8 hour bus ride is not a big deal. Never have I ever said “I love my Chief” on a daily basis because of what he does for me and the effort he puts into our projects. Never have I ever needed and wanted a fan so badly to prepare for this upcoming hot season. Never have I ever eaten a mango until Kenya (and then became addicted to them). Never have I ever lived without electricity in my house for this long. Never have I ever loved crunchy peanut butter SO much! Never have I ever lived this close to the ocean. Never have I ever had the best support system here in Kenya from my Peace Corps Family for all the rough times. Never have I ever not written a blog post for this long!

Ok, maybe the last one isn’t true, but I’ll try and keep up again… :)

Much love!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is this real? Pinch me!

Now that I’m a year into my service, it feels like I’m running out of time! I’ve been super busy and it isn’t going to let up any time soon…in fact, more things are just being added to my plate. So now that we got full funding for the resource center, it’s time to start building….here I thought the proposal and funding search was the hard part. I’ve been running all over and harassing people for prices on materials, asking for more money, organizing the construction schedule, finding community members to do the labor, etc. It’s been a busy last 3 weeks, but it all (somehow) is coming together nicely and my team of supporters have been amazing helpers and they reduce my stress as it increases. We are finalizing and putting together our orders for the materials this week, so we can begin construction as soon as possible. I stop and think at times “Is this really happening??” I can’t believe this has come to life and how quickly I will be seeing this finished. Maybe I thought this would never happen with the amount that we needed to raise, so I’m still in disbelief. And I’m trying to keep myself from thinking that something bad will happen because this is too good to be true. I’ll be posting pictures as the construction progresses.
In the middle of all this, I left my site for the first time in about a month and a half to go to Machakos and have some fun for Laken’s birthday and to celebrate our 1 year in Kenya. It’s an 11 hour trip from my site to Machakos. I went to Laken’s site which is about an hour or so outside of Machakos. We hung out with her compound family and checked out her village. Then the next day we headed back into Machakos to spend the weekend with some other volunteers that came into town. We went to a club that was as American as you can get in Machakos with a legit dance floor, DJ booth, and tables to sit at. It was an odd feeling, and we had a great time. Andrea and Jill decorated the tables and had Laken’s favorites on the table for snacks: Ginger biscuits and macadamia nuts. The next day we walked around Machakos town doing some shopping in the small shops and in the market. I bought two light sweaters for 250 shillings…that’s $3.13 USD. Talk about bargain shopping! The next day we had a big breakfast and then separated to head home. I left from Laken’s site on the 5 AM bus….way too early. So I made my 11-12 hour trek back to Malindi and back to being busy. I still haven’t kicked the habit that I can only relax when I’m NOT at home.
This last week at site was fun tho. Wednesday was Madaraka Day in Kenya which is a public holiday. Everything was closed and people were just relaxing. Then Friday was Zone Games for all the secondary schools in the Kakoneni Zone. There are 4 schools and they all came to Jilore to compete. All the students had a great time and enjoyed playing all day and not having classes. Jilore did very well in football (soccer) and got first place for the boys and girls teams.
This weekend I finished painting my room and now get to rearrange my furniture, which is exciting. It’s a bit harder when you have to make sure you can put up a mosquito net with the placement of the bed. The house will finally be ready for when my mom comes (in exactly a month from today Kenyan time!!).
I’ll be going to the new group of trainee’s training at the end of June for a week and it will be fun to meet all of them. This along with construction going on at my site…hopefully this goes well. People think that I’ve gone home to America when they don’t see me for a day…what are they going to think when I’m gone for a week!? On top of construction craziness, I’m going to start the Boys and Girls Forums again in the school since I have been a slacker, and try and teach and encourage some mamas to cook with solar cookers instead of firewood. The dispensary renovations should be happening soon as I’m told the money will be coming in about 2 weeks….we’ll see, but I’m hopeful.
I’ve put more pictures up on Facebook in the Far Far Away album, check them out and enjoy! xoxo

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feels Like Yesterday....

Today marks one year from when i left phoenix to fly to kenya and begin my adventure of a lifetime. I didnt know what to expect, how i was going to live, what i would bring to my community, or even if i would make it for the two years! When i arrived in kenya, i was greeted by Amber, a fellow pcv, who oddly enough was friends with my amazing friend Nicole and had gone to NAU with us. Peeking into her calendar i saw "One year left!" written. I thought, "wow, i can't wait to see that in my calendar". Now that day has come, and its a great, accomplished feeling. This is a huge milestone in my PC service and i'm proud to say that since day one, i've had the best time in kenya. With my PC family, projects, community, and of course the beach! i've made the best memories and have never felt like "i'm in the right place at the right time" more than ever during this last year. And luckily! I get to have another year that i'm sure will fly past faster than the first, and i can't wait! xoxoxo

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

JVRC is Funded! Whoo Hoo!

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Jilore Vijana Resource Center has recieved FULL funding!!! YAY! Thanks to the Australian High Commission in Nariobi. BUT! you can still donate, because we will need extra funds. SO if you were waiting...time is up! Donate NOW because the project will be off the website by the end of THIS week. www.peacecorps.gov/donate Project Number 615-182

Construction logistics are already in the process of being planned and arranged, so it can begin as soon as possible. We are on a tight deadline and once construction starts, its going to be quick! I'm so happy and just want to thank eveyone that helped and donated to this project. The Posterus Foundation and the Australian High Commission were our biggest contributors and Jilore can't thank them enough!!

But, we can use all the shillings you can spare, so if you were waiting to donate or had just forgot, PLEASE do so by the end of this week!! Pictures of the construction will definitely be put up so everyone can follow the fun!

xoxoxo

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Baby Joshua!!

The pastor and his wife's son, Joshua. 2 months old.

Baby Joshua!! 2

He enjoys all the attention i give him and i enjoy my baby time with him! Best stress reliever ever :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yum!

Homemade salsa in Kenya! Not from the garden yet, but this makes me excited for it. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kenyan Time Means You Are Always Late: A Long, Overdue Update!!!

Wow! It has been a busy and active last several months, so please forgive me for not keeping you updated! Where do I begin??


Well….way back when in February, a bunch of people got together and had a fun Super Bowl Party in Diani Beach. The game was on here starting at 2 AM and lasted till 6AM. It was a struggle for sure! The boys made a bunch of food like wings and dips. Then we all gathered at Forty Thieves, our local beach bar, and watched the game on a TV that had the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. We definitely stood out like Americans! I had a bet that the Steelers would win, but lost that one. At 6AM, we all staggered home, from tiredness… not drinking, as the sun came up over the ocean. But that made it pretty memorable.

The Salon Club has successfully started at the high school. The girls love the blow dryers and used them every Sunday to do each others hair. I must say all the girls are looking very “smart” as Kenyans would say. There pictures up on Facebook of the girls in action and some of their hair designs...find and friend me to check those out. The next school term, which just started, we’ll be having the girls open up the salon to the community and hopefully these girls will be able to make some money on the side and have some practice at running their own small business. Thank you SO much for those who donated the appliances and to my mom for shipping them over here!!!

The Boys and Girls Forums are in full swing at both the primary and secondary schools. They are both meeting twice a month and I’ve had some guest come in to mix it up a bit. There have also been changes made at the high school due to issues brought up by the students that would have otherwise gone unsaid and unnoticed by the headmaster/teachers. I had a young mother come in and talk to the primary girls (grades 4-8) and they got a first hand look at the struggles of being a young, single mother. The primary students got to ask their new headmaster questions to get to know him better too. Wonderful questions like where do you live?, where did you go to school?, what is your favorite food?, and how many wives do you have??...Wait..What was that last one you ask?...Yep, that is a very common question here. I also was able to get an understanding from the questions at the forums that the primary school needs to reinstate the feeding program. The feeding program is funded by World Food Program and supplies food for lunch every day for every student. They are trying to combat the issue of students missing school because they don’t have food to eat at home. These students are often sent out to look for food for not just them, but the family. Or they just sleep until dinner so they can ignore the hunger. Lunch is the incentive to come to school and be guaranteed at least one meal that day, and sometimes it’s their only meal that day. Thus, I have taken on another project of collecting data of how many absent students they are having and presenting the findings to the Ministry of Education who would oversee the program. We are also looking into forming an Education Group in the community that would deal with student/education issues like following up and holding parents responsible for their children missing school. That way we would also know more issues affecting the community. I’ll also be scheduling teacher- headmaster- chief-village elder-parent meetings addressing each of the highly absent students. I have each of their names and the number of times they were absent last term (3 month time period). This will also give us direct reasons as to why they are missing school or dropping out. The main suspected reason is hunger.

The soko (market day) is doing well for just getting out of the drought season. Arizona has been in a “drought” for how many years?? And I’ve never seen any effect of a drought there, but here…it’s a big difference from the landscape to the food quantities available. The chief and I are having some meetings in the next couple of weeks to reactivate the mamas to keep selling and to bring in different veggies to sell. There is an irrigation scheme that is down by the river and they grow many different types of veggies, but then take them to Malindi to sell there. We will hopefully be working with them to have small amounts of each veggie kept here in Jilore and sold on Tuesdays. I’m hoping this will encourage and show the other farmers/sellers that other mboga (veggies) do and will sell here and it will expand the soko.

This has also inspired me to have my own shamba (garden)! Pictures are up on the blog in a previous post to show the before and after. My goal is to grow veggies so that I can make salsa on a regular basis! I’m going into Malindi tomorrow to buy some more seeds to plant and hopefully with the rains just starting I’ll have a garden in no time!

Girls field hockey team took 3rd in the provincials in their first year competing. We are looking forward to next terms competitions. The Tae Kwon Do Club took 3rd out of 9 schools in a tournament in Malindi that they first performed at which is great exposure and encouragement for them.

A bunch of PCVs got together and played in an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament down in Mombasa a couple of weeks ago. That was fun and it was great to see everyone together and play against these very serious (practice 3 times a week) teams when we just had a couple of people that play and then formed a team. We had some intense rain delays on the beach with a huge lighting and thunderstorm (which are rare already) that came in with hurricane force winds. Not ideal when we are camping in tents on the beach…..some tents didn’t make it out the next night. Some of the people were old Peace Corps volunteers that served in different parts of the world, but now live and work in Nairobi. We were at lunch one day and a older man came up to our table (of 5 current Kenyan PCVs) and told us his wife was in the second Peace Corps group to come into Kenya back in the 1960’s! I thought that was the coolest thing! PS…Peace Corps is 50 years old this year too. Above all we met some fun people and had a great time!

Camp GLOW: What a huge success and one of the best experiences I’ve had here in Kenya!!! 12 PCVs took 46 girls, ages 14-20, from all over the country to the coastal town of Kilifi. Camp GLOW is a girl empowerment camp and we teach them about issues that girls deal with, health and reproductive health education, leadership, goal making, choices for careers, etc. Of course we have fun in there too! It was a week long camp and we split the girls up into two groups. By the third day, we really saw that the girls were learning and retaining things. They had so many great questions and for me it was a success just to give them correct information instead of them believing the myths they hear. For some of these girls, just the experience of going to and staying at a university was the big experience for them. We had some girls that had never had or used a western style toilet or a shower. For fun in the evenings, we showed them movies, had a talent show which was awesome to watch, and a disco and award ceremony on the last night. We took them to the beach one afternoon and some of the girls had never been swimming in the ocean (or any water for that fact) or some had never even been to or seen the ocean before! They clung to us for dear life in the water, but they enjoyed every minute of it! It’s the little parts of it that the girls will really remember. As PCVs we were completely drained by the end of it. There is another set of camps being planned in August to do the same thing but for girls from western Kenya. I brought 2 girls from my secondary school and I’m going to have them teach the rest of the girls in school about what they learned during the Girls Forums. The condom demonstrations should thoroughly embarrass them, but they will be great teachers! They will also be teaching the boys! Ha! Pictures are up on Facebook of the last couple of days of the camp. The Part 1 will be coming soon!

JVRC: My big project….still keeping me on my toes and busy with work. The Posterus Foundation had a fundraising event in London on the 14th of April which raised around $900 for us which is awesome! The first of two New York events was this past weekend and I’m waiting to hear how that went. I think a marathon type event is up next in May sometime. I have been working tirelessly harassing people here in Kenya for funds, and it’s actually been quite fun. They can’t get irritated with the outsider, right? Haha But it actually has connected me with some great people and made some good connections. I had a meeting with my Member of Parliament (MP) which went really well and even though he is a politician and they lie more here then in the states, I believe he will help the project. He is also up for re-election next year and will need some votes from Jilore. I’m currently bothering the County Clerk and coming at him from new creative directions. I have some great people in good places helping me in Malindi with some other leads. I’ve applied for some more grants that I’m waiting to hear back on, and we are beginning to advertise to the community so they start to want and own this project. We will be planting trees on the land boundaries soon as well as putting up a sign for the proposed site notice. I got the group registered with a ministry here, so we are official and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be having a bank account opened for the project so the money can start pouring in! This project has gotten a ton of response and support from everyone I talk to, but the issue is….everything runs on Kenyan time and things just take forever here…..It’s teaching me wonderful patience. :) As always, you can still donate at www.peacecorps.org/donate project number 615-182.

I challenge everyone to collect $100 at work, church, synagogue, birthday parties, etc through spare change in your pocket or skipping one delicious lunch at Taco Bell (Oh…how I miss it so….) and donate that in the month of May. That $100 goes so far here and can add up so quickly. You might not think so, but give me time and I’ll prove it. Check out http://www.posterus.org/ the JVRC project and see some pictures of Jilore. Let me know WHEN you donate that $100 that you so selflessly raised, so I can add you to the list of names that went to supporting my project. Don’t you want your name to be forever written in Kenya?! Again, thank you to everyone who has already donated!

My newest little project is to get a Newspaper in Education program in my primary school. It’s a program where newspapers are read and used in school as tools to increase English comprehension, awareness of current news, and debates on topics in the news. The school is given a subsided rate to buy the newspapers and each week the students have an activity using the papers. One of the issues here is that we don’t get newspapers unless they are brought from Malindi and few people do that. Two teachers from the school will be trained in running the program and then newspapers are bought each week. So...I’m looking for a grant/donor to fund the project so we can gain access to this great resource and educational tool. From my calculations so far, for only about $1,500 this will cover the training of the two teachers and buy 3 newspapers a week for a whole year! Then after the primary students have used those newspapers, they will be given to the community to read, and soon they will be reading them in the resource center! So if you have any contact of someone, or someone who knows someone, who works at a newspaper in the states, I’d love their info. I’m starting there and still looking for some education grants that could fund this project.

Welp, that sums up my last 3 months pretty well. The next 4-5 will be very busy also with continuing to work on these projects, a visit from my mom in July, and some trainings. The weather has finally cooled off and big clouds have returned to the skies. The rains have started which makes everything super green and lush. It also brings out flying bugs, tons of mosquitoes, and snakes that are very annoying, but I’ll deal with it. My neighbors and close friends, the Pastor and his wife, Pauline, had a baby boy that I get to see, hold and play with everyday. It's my stress reliever and my way to spend time waiting for meetings to happen. Baby Joshua is very cute too and keeps me happy! My dispensary is expecting money any day now to begin renovations and to install electricity, but again…everything runs on Kenyan time. May 23rd will be my one year anniversary from leaving Phoenix, and a couple days later will be my one year from leaving the states. It’s a very exciting time in my Peace Corps life. My first big milestone! I know this second year is going to fly by faster than the first, so I need to enjoy every second of it. Including living so close to the beach!!!

I will keep better updates coming on a more frequent basis now that I’m caught up on things. Hope all is well at home and I miss and love everyone!

xoxo

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shamba la Mboga: Before

This plot is right outside my back door. My goal: dig and make a kitchen garden (shamba la mboga) and grow some basic veggies. It also will make me even more Kenyan, so i have to at least try!

Shamba la Mboga: After!

This is the finished shamba. Now i'm just waiting for some seeds to arrive to plant in there and will (hopefully) watch them grow. Fingers crossed! I want to be able to make my own salsa from the veggies i'll grow. I'm such an Arizona girl!

Shamba la Mboga: Blisters...Ouch.

This is my evidence of some hard work. It's well worth it tho, but they are a bit painful....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Watoto wa Mbuzi!!



These are the newest addition to Jilore! The school goats have had 7 new baby goats born in the last 2 weeks. They are the cutest things right now, but are a pain when they are eating our plants when they are older! The one in the last picture is my favorite...yep, already have one. She is still learning how to walk and its the cutest thing.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Posterus Foundation and JVRC!!!

The Posterus Foundation in NY has agreed to fundraise to help build the Jilore Vijana Resource Center. They have been amazing to work with and just put a webpage about the project. Check it out!!! It has all the information about the project and some pictures of the youth in Jilore. It looks GREAT and I'm so happy About it! Send the link to anyone and everyone who hasn't donated to the project yet and for those of you that have, Thanks! and you can see more details about the project that you are helping to build on the website!

http://www.posterus.org/jvrc-kenya

Keep talking about this and it will happen sooner than we think! And if you haven't donated your piggy bank yet, get to it!!!

Much love and appreciation from Kenya!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Live Like a Peace Corps Volunteer

If you ever wanted to know how it is to live like a PCV, check it out!

You’ve been challenged!

Can you hack it and “Live Like a Peace Corps Volunteer” for a week?  At Peace Corps we are celebrating our 50th anniversary and we want you to be a part of it!

The “Live Like a PCV Challenge” is a project to help raise awareness about Peace Corps within the U.S. while giving those who take up the challenge a small taste of Volunteer life.  The challenge will take place during first week of each month (the 1st-7th) from December 2010 through 2011 and also during Lent.

The Peace Corps mission is:
Goal 1: Help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
Goal 2: Help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
Goal 3: Help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.


Below you will find the guide lines of the Challenge, as well as learn how you can help us with our mission and celebration.
  
The Challenge

For one week you are asked to give up some of the everyday conveniences we do without as Peace Corps Volunteers. Our project started out with Mongolian volunteers but now we are happy to have many different Peace Corps countries you can represent.  Each country has slightly different rules for the challenge, reflecting the different living conditions and cultures of the areas we serve.  If you did not receive a specific country along with this document, or wish to see the other countries involved check out “The Challenge” page at LiveLikeaPCV.org

First decide which country you want to represent, which set of rules you wish to follow.
Then, look through the country rules you chose and decide which one of the five levels of difficulty you want to take on.
Next, decide which month you want to participate.  The first week of the month you choose (the 1st-7th) will be when you need to give up your items.
Finally, let us know that you’ve taken up the challenge by completing the Accept the Challenge section of this form.


There is a bit more to this challenge than just giving up some comforts for seven days.  We ask that you take that extra step and share your experience.  First of all we would love to know how it went for you and to share that with currently serving Volunteers.  But more importantly for our mission we would like you to share your efforts with others there in the United States.  By sharing your story you can help raise awareness of what we do thereby helping us in our mission.

The three main ways you can do this are.
1.           Fill out, sign, and return our press release form.
2.           Write up your own editorial or letter to the editor for your local paper. (see our “Writing about your experience” section below)
3.           Tell your friends and family about your challenge, let them know what your doing and why.  Maybe even challenge them!

If you would like to share your experience with us just drop us a line at ProjectTeam@livelikeapcv.org

When you’ve successfully completed your Challenge cheek out our “Show Support” page at LiveLikeaPCV.org for gear to let others know of your triumph and help us spread the word.

To see who else is participating in the Challenge and for other information check out LiveLikeaPCV.org

Accept the Challenge

Please answer these questions and send your responses to ProjectTeam@livelikeapcv.org

What is your name?
Where do you live?
When will you “Live Like a PCV”?
What country are you representing (which country rules are you following)?
What level are you going for, and which things are you giving up if applicable?
Is this the email address we should use to contact you?
 -------------------------------------------
Press Release
Add caption
Is it ok for us to contact any media in your area and let them know of your efforts to help us?  (This may result in them visiting your home to do a story.  Trust me it’s not nearly as scary as it may sound)    YES / NO

                     What is your phone number?
                     What is your email?
                     When and how is the best way to reach you?
                     Why are you participating in “Live Like a PCV”?
                     Do you know any current or returned volunteers?
                   (if yes, who, where did/do they serve, and what is their relationship to you)
                     When will you be participating in the challenge?


Signature____________________________________________

(you may sign and return this by email as a scanned attachment, or just email us your answers with the following; “I      your name    do herby agree to allow Peace Corps to contact any media outlets to inform them of my participation in the “Live Like a PCV Challenge” and in doing so distribute my above information so as those media outlets may contact me”)

Writing about your experience.

After your week of “Live Like a PCV” we would like to hear about your experience (to share with currently serving Volunteers) and would encourage you to share it with your local paper as an editorial or letter to the editor.

Below we have some questions to help you with your writing. These questions are meant to inspire your writing, we would suggest that you answer all of these questions for yourself then edit your work to include the most illuminating aspects. All of these questions do not need to be a part of your finished work.

         How did you come to be challenged?
         Which level did you decide to pursue, which country, and which restrictions did you place upon yourself?
         What about this challenge interested you and why did you feel compelled to take part?
         Do you know anyone that has or is currently serving in the Peace Corps? How has their service affected you? (if yes, who, where did/do they serve, and what is their relationship to you)
         How did the restrictions affect your daily life, did you miss the comforts that you were no longer allowed?
         Did you find yourself being resourceful in ways you hadn’t expected?
         What was the most frustrating aspect of your experience?
         Has this challenge inspired you to make any permanent changes in your day-to-day life? (if so what and why)
         Do you feel this challenge has given you insight into the lives of PCVs and the people they serve? (how)
         What was the most surprising aspect of the experience?
         Were there any funny or unusual incidents during your “Live Like a PCV” week?
         What was your favorite aspect of the challenge? (Why?)
         Did you keep a record of your experience or share it with friends and family?
         Do you think your example will inspire others to take part, as well?
         What about the Peace Corps mission do you most identify with? (Goal 1: Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women. Goal 2: Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served. Goal 3: Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.)
         Do you feel you have a greater appreciation for your life as a result of participating in this challenge? (how and why)


Once you’ve completed your writing, share it with us by emailing your work to ProjectTeam@livelikeapcv.org  Below are some tips to submit your work to a local paper.

   An editorial would be the prime position for your efforts but if your papers requirements are difficult to get a piece in there try for a letter to the editor. Some papers only allow letters to the editors for outside submissions.
   If you are able to submit either a letter to the editor or an editorial, try to find out your papers guidelines. Such as preferences for length and the like.
   When you submit your work to the paper make sure to introduce yourself and include some background information outside of your written piece.  Information like what part of town you are from, what you do, etc. This will make it more likely that your piece will be used and could prompt them to do a larger piece or make your work more prominent.
   It should be easy to find out where to submit your work.  Look around your local papers opinion area or their ‘Contact Us’ section online.  If you can’t find anything specific just drop a quick email to their general email account inquiring about how to submit an editorial. (if you are having trouble finding this, just email us and we may be able to help)
   Beside your hometown paper also consider submitting your piece to a larger city paper that is near by, or to any alumni outlets your college has. You may also consider pursuing blogs and internet sites which publish material relevant to social activism and similar topics.

No mater how much or how little you decided to do with our “Live Like a PCV Challenge” we would like to thank you for your efforts to help us in our mission.  Even something as simple as passing on the challenge is extremely supportive.

Sincerely,
Live Like a PCV Project Team

Kenya's Rules:
The Challenge: Kenyan Rules
For one week you are asked to give up some of the everyday conveniences we do without. The levels
are arranged from more common to less common living conditions of PCVs in Kenya while also taking
into account the difficulty of completing the challenge in the US. So while none of us here have a car it
ranks quite high in the challenge as it is much more difficult to do without one in the states. Kenya is
known for it's beautiful safaris in which you can spot the “The Big Five” animals, for which we’ve
named our levels (they are in order of rareness in the Mara.)
•First decide which month you want to participate. The first week of the month you choose (the 1st-
7th) will be when you need to give up your items.
•Next, look through the list below and decide which one of the five levels of difficulty you want to take
on, and which items you will give up. (although your items may come from multiple difficulty levels
you are only trying to complete one level, the most difficult you think you can manage)
•Finally, let us know that you’ve taken up the challenge by completing the Accept the Challenge section
of the general “Live Like a PCV” document. (This document is to accompany another if you did not receive
that other document which outlines the general nature of this Challenge please visit LiveLikeaPCV.org)

Lion-Difficulty Level I.
(choose two)
• You can’t use any microwave
• No checks, no debit cards or credit cards, cash only all week.
• No expensive sweets! Instead limit yourself to locally available fruits.
• No washing machine or dish washers. You must attempt laundry by hand once.
• Cook dinner by candlelight every night
• Keep a journal or write a handwritten letter to a friend about your experiences this week

Buffalo-Difficulty Level II.
(choose two plus one item from Level I.)
• No television (this includes Hulu and Adult Swim online, they are not available outside the US). You can listen to the radio and read local newspapers
• Baths or showers allowed only every other day. You can wash yourself at the sink each day
• Cook dinner at home each night. That means no fast food, no restaurants, no delivery.
• Internet only every other day. You can use the internet for your job but you're on the honor system here.
• Start and finish a book this week
• Smile at five children a day
• Buy your fruits and vegetables for the week locally
• Wild Animals! You can't leave your yard between 7:30 PM and 6:30 AM unless accompanied by three or
more people.

Elephant-Difficulty Level III.
(choose two plus one item from Level II or two items from Level I)
• You can use your toilet but you must manually fill the tank or do a bucket flush. Turn off the water to the toilet
• Lack of temperature control. No heater or air conditioner in your car.
• Greet everyone you know with a handshake and genuine questions about their family, home, and health
• You can only use one burner on your stove and no oven.
• Ration your water to only 10 gallons a day. This includes cooking, drinking, bathing, and washing clothes.

Cheetah-Difficulty Level IV.• Bathe only once this week. You may wash yourself at the sink each day
• No driving cars. You can use public transport, bike, and walk.
• Go to your neighbors house and have a genuine conversation for at least half an hour
• Internet one day this week. (Again, you can use it for your work only.)
• Power outage: Throw a dice (6 sides) every day for how many hours you will be without power sometime
between (5p-11p)

Rhino-Difficulty Level V.
(choose one item from each Level)
• No running water from your house, you must go fetch it from somewhere else. (a neighbors house is fine)
• No English for the entire week. (You can speak English at work only.)
• You can’t use any toilet in your house, you must go somewhere else or improvise
• No refrigerator
• Food restriction: For one meal a day you only have access to these foods: flour, spaghetti, local vegetables,
milk, eggs, and bread
• Solitary confinement: Spend the whole weekend in one room of your house. Using no electricity, you are allowed 3 books, the battery life of your computer (no recharging), a bucket to go to the toilet in.

When you’ve successfully completed your Challenge check out our “Show Support” page at LiveLikeaPCV.org for gear to let others know of your triumph and help us spread the word
This document is to accompany another if you did not receive that other document which outlines
the general nature of this Challenge please visit LiveLikeaPCV.org

Friday, February 11, 2011

I always wanted to live on a farm...

One of the little things that make me happy in the mornings is feeding the secondary school's cow my mango peels. They got "Besty", as i like to call her, from a parent who was unable to pay school fees. So the school is able to accept cows and goats as payment. Besty came with her calf Billy and each morning i'm able to share my mangos with them. They are tied up just on the other side of the fence near my house. Do i live in the bush or what?!? Hahaha

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Primary Boys Forum Box

It was packed full of questions! Festus, a clerk at the secondary school, did a great job leading the boys and he said they had fun with it.

Boys and Girls Forum Boxes

These are the boxes that i decorated for the students to put their questions in. Today was the first forum at the primary school and i didn't expect too many questions due to the students getting used to the process, but man was i wrong!!!...check out the other pictures!

Primary Girls Forum Box

I was so surprised to see it full of questions at the first forum! A lot of them were about the same topic like HIV, periods, or feeling towards boys. The language barrier was tough and since they are younger they don't know english very well. i had two female teachers translating and answering questions so it was ok. I want to find an outside woman who speaks swahili to lead the next one with me. I feel like the girls did learn some things, but because there were so many (about 250, 5 grade levels together) jammed into a room, i'm going to have to think of a different way to organize it. It also it WAY to hot at that time of day to have that many people in a room....i felt like i was going to pass out...literally. Haha

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Before: Kitchen

This is probably the best picture for the actual color of the walls thru the whole house before painting. They were grey and gross...

Before: Sitting Room

The patched crack is there.....

After: Sitting Room

So fresh and so clean clean!! Thru the door is the bathroom and shower room and then the hallway to the spare rooms.

After: Sitting Room

My bench looks so nice next to the new wall color! The lighting makes the paint look darker here, but it's still the same color.

Before: Sitting Room Wall

Dirty....

After: Sitting Room Wall

This is next to the front door. Doesn't the free calendar look so nice now?!

After: Hallway to Spare Rooms

The paint looks whiter and lighter here because of the light. The paint brightens up this whole area that used to be really dark. The sun reflects a lot now.

After: Kitchen

It looks so clean!

After: Kitchen

Nice and bright now!

After: Sitting Room

And now it's gone!

My Painting Crew

From left to right: Lorenzo, Arielle, and DeAnne. They are peace corps volunteers from around my area and they came to help me paint. I paid them with many thanks and food. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Rough Day With Some Perks...

Tuesday didn’t start off the best. It was one of those days where you wake up knowing that you should just stay home and do nothing. I was woken up by my roommate, one of the secondary school teachers, telling me that there were sweet potatoes that I can boil and eat. Awesome!...but not at 6:30am. As I’m getting ready I hear the back door open. Anytime a Kenyan approaches a house they always yell out “Hodi!” to announce themselves. I heard no “Hodi”, but when I came out of my room I found the milk man…yep, a guy who brings fresh cow’s milk in the AM for my roommates, and he was about to pour milk into my “treated water ONLY” pitcher that he got off the table from inside my house. I quickly stopped him and gave him something else. Then, I reluctantly went into Malindi to run some errands. It was a very risky drive into town because the matatu driver thought it would be a good idea to race a huge bus to the next village. It’s a very bumpy, rocky, and uneven road mind you. Finally in town and my day gets a bit better. My last stop was to buy more paint for my house. After waiting for the hardware store to reopen after lunch (1.5 hours), I saw my friend the Hardware Store Guy, Hussin. He gave me a huge discount on the paint and brushes. He always treats me well and I’m sure it helps that I’m a girl, white, and can speak a bit of Giriama, so he enjoys my visits. He also gave me money for the tuk tuk (three wheeled golf cart looking thingy) ride to the stage. At the stage, I caught the bus that my conductor friend, Masudi, works on and he gives me free rides. The day was looking up! Back in Jilore, I rushed over to see the headmaster at school before he left. He looked over another proposal that I had finished and approved it. So, I emailed that off. Yay! I was so tired and beat from the day that I went home to go to bed early. Oh, but no so fast…..after I got done bathing, I came back into my room and found evidence of a rat eating a mango that I had on my desk! When I came into my room, it had scared him off, but that also meant that he was still in my room! So….I went on a hunt. I set a trap with a piece of mango as the bait and was about to set it up on the floor when I heard a sound from the window. On the window louvers was the sneaky bastard! I placed the trap on the window sill and I left the room, closed the door and just waited….it took about 10 mins for him to take the bait and SNAP! goes the trap. I was proud that my plan had worked, but then extremely grossed out because now I had to get rid of the body…yuck! Grossed out the whole time, I took trap (rat attached) outside. Finally! After all these events, I went to bed and ended such a rough day!




The next day turned out to be A LOT better! I was able to speak to the MP of Malindi at a fish pond opening and he said that money will be arriving in two weeks to start renovations on the dispensary. This means we’ll be receiving money for electricity installation, a new roof and painting inside and out to start the project! I also passed along the proposal for the resource center and he will be getting back to me next week about what he can donate. Sweet deal, it was a good day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mango Season!

Here is the size of mangos that are in season now. You get your 10 shillings worth! Mangos tend to be a full meal for me sometimes too. So tasty!

Bench

This is the bench that i had made. I wanted something different and the layout of the sitting room wasn't good for a sofa. This bench is perfect for relaxing and it's wide enough to be a bed for guests....mosquito net included!

My new bestie, Maggie

This is maggie, the pastor's wife's sister (they have 8 kids in their family). Maggie moved to jilore from nyanza province to go to school this year. She is in class 6, which is like 6th grade. She is super smart and fierce! She makes me laugh all the time and she is one of my favorites here at site.

Safaricom cell tower

This is the wonderful, finished and working cell phone tower! I'm so happy that i don't have to stand in one corner of my house, with one leg bent, and an arm in the air holding a metal pot inorder to get reception anymore.... :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's been a while!

Lots of things have been going on so here is an update post!


The holiday season was busy and very fun! Since schools are on break in December, it was slow at my site. I did a lot of planning for the next school term that starts in Jan. I will be starting a boys and girls forum in the secondary and primary schools. This will be a chance for the students to write down questions anonymously and put them in a box. In the forum, the questions are pulled out and discussed. This was a great activity that I did in college when I was an RA. It opens the discussion to go anywhere about anything, and the kids don't have to be embarrassed to ask. I'm starting a salon club for the girls in boarding at the secondary school. Thank you to everyone who gave my mom old hair appliances. The girls are very excited about receiving them soon!

I traveled to Loitokitok to visit my home stay family or my Kenyan family as I like to call them. It was great to see them for a couple of days and I enjoyed playing with my little sister who is talking up a storm now. I found that my Swahili speaking level is at a 2.5 year old's because we had some great convos that I understood completely! haha A large number of other PCVs from my training class came out to the coast for Christmas and New Years. It was so fun to be around each other again and not have to worry about going to training the next day. For New Years, we were in Diani Beach. There was a huge party at the beach bar 40 Thieves. They brought in 13 or so South African DJ's that performed for the 24-hour party. It started at 9pm New Years Eve and went far into the following day. We had an in with the DJ's, so me and some friends ended up hanging out with them a bit and making friends with a couple of the guys that live in Port Elizabeth, SA. I plan on traveling down there after peace corps and having a tour of South Africa with them! Check out Guns N Lazers They are amazing!  I worked on my tan while hanging out in Diani and I'm happy to say it looks good and dark!

Back at site, I returned to find that the cell phone tower across the road from my house is up and running! I have awesome reception now and it makes my life so much easier! Still working on getting electricity to the dispensary tho.....The market is doing well. It's mango season here, so they are selling them like crazy! They are huge and delicious! Right now they are being sold for 10 shillings each....that is .125 cents US. I'll be posting some pictures soon to show you the size of them!

My main focus right now is getting the Resource Center funded. We were awarded a grant of $500 USD from the organization Kids to Kids! This is a huge help, but we still have a lot to go until we have the full amount raised and Peace Corps can release the funds to us and we start building. So if you haven't donated already, get to it! It's a simple process through the peace corps website www.peacecorps.gov/donate Search the project number 615-182. If you are really eager to raise some money, start a collection jar at work, find that spare change in the sofa, or go door to door, tell a friend, etc! haha It's girl scout cookie season too I've heard, so instead of another box of cookies, donate that $4 to the project! If you know of any organizations or people that are interested in donating to Kenya or this type of project, let me know and I can send you more detailed information on it. Donate Donate Donate! Thank you to all that have already donated too!

Other than that, life is back to simple in the bush. I'm working on doing some redecorating to my house. New mosquito netting on the windows, painting the inside, and putting up some shelves and such. I also had a bench/sofa/bed made for the sitting room. I'll put up some before and after pictures. I'm excited for this too because its much needed! 

Hope all is well at home and I'll be sure to write more often.
Much love!